IL Supreme Court disbars 8 attorneys, including ex-lawyer who tried to hire man to kill ex-wife; suspends 11

By Cook County Record | May 30, 2019

Jonathan Bilyk

A former Homer Glen attorney who was convicted of trying to hire someone to murder his ex-wife is among a group of eight lawyers disbarred in May by the Illinois Supreme Court.

The state high court also suspended 11 other Illinois lawyers, including a downstate lawyer who falsified his home address to seek election as a circuit judge.

On May 21, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission announced the orders from the state Supreme Court, as part of the most recent round of state disciplinary actions against lawyers in the state.

Among those prohibited from practicing law in Illinois were Robert W. Gold-Smith, who has been in custody since 2011 and was sentenced in 2016 to 30 years in prison for allegedly seeking to hire someone to kill his ex-wife.

According to a report published in the Joliet Herald-News, Gold-Smith, a bankruptcy attorney, allegedly punched his ex-wife outside a courtroom as the couple was going through divorce proceedings. He was charged with battery and put in the Will County Jail after violating an order of protection in March 2011.

About 18 months later, Gold-Smith allegedly offered another man, who was wearing a wire for the Will County Sheriff’s Office, $5,000 to kill his ex-wife. Gold-Smith was then charged with solicitation of murder, and ultimately sentenced.

His law license has been suspended since September 2016, the ARDC said.

Also disbarred were:

Gregory P. Allen, of Palo Alto, Calif. According to the ARDC, Allen had been disbarred in California for allegedly failing to comply with conditions of a sanction order and to “timely submit a final report in connection with the earlier disciplinary matter.” The Illinois high court imposed reciprocal discipline and also disbarred Allen;

Richard P. Caro, of Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. According to the ARDC, Caro, who was licensed to practice law in New York, was never licensed to practice law in Illinois, but still handled several legal matters in Illinois and held “himself out as being authorized to provide legal services in connection with those matters, potentially harming his clients’ interests;”

Jeffrey W. Deer, of Chicago. According to the ARDC, Deer was convicted of forgery and suborning perjury in Cook County court. The ARDC said he allegedly created a “false promissory note to support a purported $400,000 loan and procured a witness to testify falsely about the source of those funds, which were used to pay a cash bond in a criminal case.” He had been suspended on an interim basis since November 2018;

Christopher L. Graham, of Dallas. Graham had been disbarred in Texas “for submitting duplicative and excessive billing invoices to a Texas court for attorney’s fees … and for filing a motion to recuse a judge that contained statements that were false … concerning the judge’s qualifications and integrity,” according to the ARDC. The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred him reciprocally;

David A. Schiller, of Chicago. Schiller had been disbarred in Texas for “neglecting personal injury matters, failing to keep clients reasonably informed about their case, misusing client funds,” and not responding timely to Texas attorney regulators, the ARDC said. The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred him as reciprocal discipline;

Leicester B. Stovell, of Washington, D.C. According to the ARDC, Stovell had been disbarred by the District of Columbia, after he allegedly “was incompetent, engaged in neglect, and failed to effectively communicate with a client and keep complete record of client funds” in four separate cases. The Illinois Supreme Court disbarred him as reciprocal discipline; and

Theodore A. Woerthwein, of Chicago. According to the ARDC, Woerthwein allegedly “misappropriated $237,000 in settlement funds,” which he was supposed to keep in a trust account.

As part of the May disciplinary orders, the Illinois Supreme Court also suspended 11 other lawyers.

Among those suspended was Dennis R. Atteberry, of Taylorville. According to the ARDC, Atteberry filed election papers in downstate Shelby County falsely claiming to live in the county, so he could seek election to the Shelby County Circuit Court. He was suspended for 60 days, effective June 11.

Also suspended were:

Vincent DeMarti Porter, of Allen Park, Mich., who was suspended on an interim basis and until further order of the court. An ARDC hearing board has recommended Porter be disbarred. According to the ARDC, Porter allegedly helped clients engage in fraud and allegedly misrepresented “an investment opportunity to prospective investors.” The ARDC said he also committed a criminal act, misprision of a felony;

Matthew R. Booker, of Springfield, suspended for three years and until further order of the court. The suspension was stayed after 18 months by a two-year probation. According to the ARDC, he “made misrepresentations to courts, clients, his law firm and others in regard to two civil cases;”

James R. Mayer, of Minneapolis, suspended 18 months. According to the ARDC, Mayer was suspended in Minnesota indefinitely after he allegedly “misappropriated $6,176.45 from a non-profit organization for which he had been acting as treasurer;”

Cheryl Ann Powell, of Mount Vernon, suspended for one year and until further order of the court, with the suspension stayed after 60 days by a two-year probation. According to the ARDC, she allegedly “revealed client confidences when she disclosed, without authority, her client’s consideration of legal action involving the client’s son,” among other allegations;

Doug A. Bernacchi, of Chicago, suspended for one year and until further order of the court. According to the ARDC, he was suspended in Indiana for one year “for incompetently representing his client in connection with a child support matter, charging that client an unreasonable fee, improperly using and splitting his fee with a non-lawyer legal assistant and attempting to obstruct the attorney disciplinary process.” He was suspended in Illinois as reciprocal discipline;

William A. Swafford, of Chicago, one year and until he is reinstated as an attorney in Nevada, where he was suspended. According to the ARDC, he was suspended there “for knowingly assisting another attorney in representing two brothers with conflicting interests in a criminal matter … permitting the other attorney to represent his client,” among other allegations;

Adam S. Tracy, of Chicago, one year. According to the ARDC, he allegedly neglected client matters in foreclosure, loan modification and bankruptcy matters, among other allegations;

Barry M. Lewis, of Chicago, 5 months, for allegedly fraudulently using a former “domestic partner’s employer-provided health insurance benefits” for eight years after his relationship to the domestic partner ended;

Paul Dee Boudreau, of Yorkville, 90 days;

Stephen J. Dine, of Chicago, 30 days;

William M. Anderson, of Creve Couer, 30 days.

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Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission Illinois Supreme Court

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